Former Capital Bars chief in €3.2m deal for AIB bank branch on Upper Baggot St

Liam O’Dwyer expected to explore potential conversion of D4 landmark to pub or boutique hotel

Veteran publican Liam O’Dwyer is understood to have acquired the former AIB bank building at 52-54 Upper Baggot Street. While the agent handling the sale declined to comment on the matter, it is believed that the Dublin 4 landmark has secured in excess of the €3.2 million which had been guided when it was offered to the market in June of this year.

Mr O’Dwyer, who is best known as the co-founder along with his brother Des of the former Dublin-headquartered pub empire, Capital Bars, will likely explore the possibility of converting the former bank branch for use as a bar and restaurant or boutique hotel. At the height of the Celtic Tiger era, the Capital Bars group dominated Dublin’s night-time economy through its ownership of so-called “super pubs” such as Cafe en Seine, The George and Zanzibar.

52-54 Upper Baggot Street famously served as AIB and Ireland’s first drive-in bank. The late Taoiseach Charles Haughey played a starring role in its opening in 1961. In a gesture typical of largesse and taste for the finer things in life, the then minister for justice provided the bank with its first lodgement in the form of a gold sovereign.

AIB’s famous drive-through operation continued to trade for the next several decades before being converted back into a traditional bank premises in the 1990s. In keeping with the AIB’s current strategy of moving its retail banking operations online, the Upper Baggot Street branch closed for business in 2021 and the bank surrendered its leasehold interest.


Following that move, the owner of the building, a private Irish investor, instructed agent Turley Property Advisors to offer it for sale with full vacant possession for €3.2 million. The property was marketed on the basis of its potential to facilitate a number of uses including a boutique hotel, supermarket or even a pub. Neighbouring occupiers include well-known pubs such as Searsons and The Waterloo, Tesco, Donnybrook Fair, Spar and Saba restaurant. The building is located just a seven-minute walk from the Aviva Stadium and 20 minutes from St Stephen’s Green.

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan is Property Editor of The Irish Times